Leaders initiate change. They establish strategy and create plans. Developing strategy and project management are expected skills of leadership. It is, in fact, the starting prerequisite for developing a managed change. Managed change is the conscious effort to ensure that the desired outcomes are the outcomes that are really achieved. The LaMarsh Managed Change model walks leaders through the process they’ll need to follow to achieve the change results they desire.
The LaMarsh model is composed of four basic phases, from the initiation of the change through sustaining the change.
Initiate the Change
Initiating the change encompasses the traditional activities of strategic planning and direction setting as well as the program and project planning process. Once the organization has decided the approach it wants to take to the market, it goes through the process of analyzing the resources needed and the activities that need to be completed to reach that goal.
While this approach appears to start as a traditional waterfall, single-iteration project, the entire cycle is designed to adjust and refine the initial expectations so that the results can be achieved even as new distractions and diversions seek to pull the organization off course.
With any large-scale change, there’s risk. In the second phase of the model, the risks are explicitly identified, and tactics are designed to mitigate, avoid, or overcome the risks. The key risks are those associated with the organization rejecting the change, like a heart transplant recipient rejecting the transplanted heart. If the people of the organization won’t accept the change, then the change is doomed to fail. Not only will the organization not receive the rewards it hopes for, but also all the efforts surrounding the planning and the change itself will be wasted.
Implement the Change Plan
With the direction set and the risks identified, it’s time to implement the program. The implementation phase takes into account the risks and the tactics developed in the previous stage while expanding upon the activities that are necessary to achieve the outcomes. The key to this phase is to execute the plan well and identify when activities are missing from the plan that will hurt the ability to achieve the results.
In this phase, the metrics are monitored, and activities are adjusted to ensure that the outcomes that were expected are achieved. While labeled achieving results, the phase is concerned with how to know you’ve achieved the results – or not – and what to do about the gaps that may appear.
Even Kurt Lewin acknowledged that there’s a tendency to backslide, and it’s important to ensure that there is no reversion to previous behaviors. While most of the attention and effort must be shifted to new changes and strategic priorities, the model reserves some effort for ensuring that the results remain well after the change process is complete and the focus has changed.
The model isn’t fundamentally different than other change models that are available. However, its focus is squarely set towards large changes in organizations where there’s a strategic direction and a sustained commitment from leadership towards achieving the goals that were initially expected when the direction was set. The sensitivity to the needs of large organizations is particularly clear, as the language reflects the large-scale project management found in larger organizations and on larger changes.